On the Road in Denton, Texas

This Dallas nail technician loves nails but wants to expand her horizons into skin care. 

Molly Sutton’s is bored. After 10 years of doing nails she’s switching gears, focusing more on building a skin care business than doing nails. It’s not that she doesn’t like nails; after all, it helped her finance her college education, enjoy the pricey hobby of horse showing, and open her own full-service salon. She has so many standing appointments that she takes virtually no walk-ins and few new clients, but she’s looking for more profitable salon services. And she sees skin care as the answer.

Augmenting her nail clients with more skin care customers, she hopes, will also ease her career ennui. Right now the customer mix is half and half, and most of her nail care clients have been with her since she received her license 10 years ago. To be honest, she says, long term clients are a double-edge sword. They’re steady and predictable, but so too are their stories. “At least when they're gettin’ a facial,” she confides, drawing out every syllable, “they don’t talk you.”

Her clientele consists mostly of serious acrylic wearers (she estimates that 95% of her clients wear acrylic and get their fills like clockwork). Sutton says she hasn’t seen a move toward natural nail care services, and pedicures remain strictly seasonal in this town where boots are year-round footwear.

While studying business in college, Sutton started doing nails because it was a way to earning money between studying and getting to classes. 

At her father’s urging, she studied to become a paralegal, but didn’t enjoy it and ultimately dropped out of school. She dabbled in real estate, horse showing, and permanent makeup, but ultimately could always rely on doing nails to pay bills.

Drawing heavily from two nearby universities has bolstered business in a non-descript location in this town 40 miles outside of Dallas. There’s room for a hairdresser, massage therapist, nail technician, and esthetician. Right now, it’s just Sutton and the massage therapist, but she hopes the addition of the right hairdresser will increase business for everyone.

Don’t get her wrong: This Dallas native says she loves her clients and acknowledges that the nail business has been very good to her. It’s just that she’s got an itch to do more. She imagines after building up her esthetics clientele she might be interested in becoming an educator or, ideally, going to work in R&D for a skin care company. “I’d love to work in the lab and come up with new products,” she says.

I suppose next time I’m in Denton I won’t be able to get another pedicure with her like one I did this time, but I’d book a facial with her in a heartbeat.

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